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How to Choose Your Gear Ratio

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A very essential item to consider when selecting a bike with just one gear is the selection of a gear ratio. Fixing our drivetrain so that it’s just one speed or going single speed will eliminate the need for a derailleur.

This implies that the size of our two bicycle sprockets, in particular, will be the most important determinant of our cadence, our rate of acceleration, and our top speed. It has a significant effect on the overall riding comfort.

As the drivetrain’s name implies, we will be unable to shift while riding. That’s why we should think about this aspect carefully while choosing components for our ideal bike.
the cadence of a bicycle


What exactly does this phrase mean? If you want to know how quickly you can pedal, look at the number of crank rotations per minute (often abbreviated as rpm).

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We may ride faster, smoother, and with less risk of knee problems if we maintain a proper cadence.

This number should, most frequently, be in the region of 70-100 rpm, and it relies on our fitness, the gear ratio, geometry of our frame, and the resultant position on the bike (proper (or not)), and many other variables.

This video is a good place to start if you want to learn more about the topic.

The cadence of Sunday riders tends to be lower than that of professional cyclists, who ride at a greater level.

However, this does not imply that pedaling as hard as the cyclists do during the Tour de France will always result in faster times. All of it is predicated on our own talents. We should still work on our high cadence pedaling since it will help us perform better and be easier on our joints.

2 Bike sprockets

When riding a single-speed bike, the power from our legs is transferred via the chain and the bicycle sprockets at the front and back (cog).

When we divide the number of teeth on one side by the number on the other, we obtain the ratio value, which determines how many times the wheel rotates in one crank spin. With a 48-tooth chainring and an 18-tooth rear derailleur, for example, the ratio is 3.0; with 48/17, the ratio is 2.82.

a robe in an ostre-kool rower

We can calculate the distance our bicycle will go in one rotation by using maths and calculating the diameter of the wheel. What does all of this theory really mean in practice? Ratio increases when front sprocket size decreases while rear sprocket size stays constant.

A bat for the far right corner of the mind

The bicycle’s third-lowest gear ratio is 3.
At its core, increasing this number will make it more difficult to accelerate and will result in a lower cadence. This is a given. However, we’ll have an easier time keeping up with our current pace.

Increasing the rpm with a low gear ratio will have the reverse effect: it will be simpler to pedal, but we’ll have to do more “spin” Our knees will surely loathe us if we overstate the ratio number in any manner. This will cause us to run like a hamster on a wheel.

Simply said, it alters our riding experience in both good and bad ways. Especially on a fixed gear bike.

How to avoid destroying a fixed-gear tire in a week using skid patches, no. 4
Many individuals chose this powertrain because they wanted to learn how to skid, a method for braking only with the legs that is only possible with a fixed gear.

We slide and “burn rubber” like a vehicle when we lock the back wheel. There are only two ways to effectively skid: with the left or right foot forward on the horizontal crank.

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We may deduce from the gear ratio hypothesis that this kind of braking will cause our tire to wear unevenly. Depending on the ratio, there may be one or several hundred skid patches, which are the parts of the tire that make contact with the ground while the vehicle is sliding.

The bicycle tire wears more evenly and lasts longer when there are more patches on it. The ratio and cadence may be calculated using one of the numerous online calculators available.

A fixed gear’s optimum gear ratio is #5.
Considerations like personal taste, leg strength or terrain elevation must be taken into account when determining the best ratio.

Too low a gear ratio is dangerous if you reside in a mountainous area where your legs will travel at the speed of light every time you ride downhill. This is especially true if you’re using SPD pedals or straps (read more about this in another of our articles). However, if the ratio is too bigh we’ll probably have to get off our bike halfway up the slope and push it.

2.6 to 3.0 is the sweet spot for most individuals when it comes to slopes. An 80-90 rpm cadence gives us a top speed of 30km/h, whereas a 34km/h top speed is possible with a cadence of 100 rpm.
If you’re just starting out on your journey on a single speed or fixed gear bike, a gear ratio of about 2.7-2.8 will be perfect. This is what all of our motorcycles come equipped with as standard equipment. However, please let us know if you need a different ratio. This is a simple parameter to adjust.

Calculator overshoots and leaves a spotty trail

Finding out what we need is going to be easiest if we start with a medium value. After a while of riding, we’ll be able to tell whether the ratio is perfect for us or if we need to adjust it upwards or downwards.

If for any reason you change your mind, it won’t cost you much money or take up much of your time. It’s just necessary to change the back cog. Starting at 10€, you may do it yourself or take your bike to a shop.

Everyone has a distinct preference when it comes to gear ratios (number 6).
The fixed-gear gear ratio you choose is a very personal matter, with a distinct value for each rider.

If you’re just at the beginning of your trip, it’s advisable to experiment or go to a bike repair and ask for assistance in selecting the appropriate ratio.

Also, keep in mind that as your muscular strength and athleticism improves, so will your tastes.

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Are you intrigued in the thought of having a really good fixed gear, or are you searching for a quick, flexible bike for the city? Visit this page to see the most recent additions to our catalog.

Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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